What Are the Aswangs Really?
In the Grimm episode "Mother Dearest", the aswang was featured as a gray-shape-shifting monster that eats its firstborn's firstborn while still inside the mother's womb in order to stay alive. But what does Philippine folklore really say about the aswang?
According to my uncles whose favorite past-time is to scare us little kids with stories of aswangs and other mystical creatures, the aswang is actually a sort of general term for monsters that prey on sick people and pregnant women. There are two known types, the tik-tik and the manananggal.
The tik-tiks are shape-shifting aswangs. The most popular form they usually take is a big black dog but they can also turn into small animals when they need to escape. The tik-tik is called a tik-tik because of the sound they make that goes like tick-tick tick-tick. One thing to remember about the tik-tiks is that if you hear the ticking sound on your roof they are most probably on the opposite side of the house meaning the lower floor or vice versa. Native Filipino houses were made of wood with a roof made of nipa or weaved anahaw with an elevated floor for the living quarters. The existence of the silong, the gap between the ground and the floor, and the anahaw roof makes it easier for the tik-tiks to attack either from the roof or the silong.
|A typical bahay kubo|
The name manananggal probably came from the verb tanggal which in english means to remove. The manananggals are said to have the ability to separate the upper part of their body from the lower half. The upper part grows a bat like super wide spanned wings. In order to make this happen, the manananggal would put on a special oil all over her body when it's time to prowl for food. I say her because all of the stories I know about manananggals always mention a woman. While the tik-tiks seem to be predominantly male.
Facts About the Aswangs
- Aswangs eat fetuses by either turning into an animal that can crawl or sit on top of the pregnant mother's belly button or through its threadlike tongue that it drops down from the roof.
- Sick people and pregnant women smell like pizza to the aswangs.
- Aside from fetuses aswangs also love to eat human liver.
- When a fetus is eaten by an aswang, the mother would appear to have a miscarriage and give birth to premature dead babies.
- Aswangs can levitate sick people in order to get to their livers.
- Aswangs do not fly like superman, instead they walk and levitate and gets to point A from point B really fast.
- Aswangs walk slightly floating off the ground, you will only see this if you peak between your legs while leaning your body downwards.
- Aswangs cannot stare you in the face, they would always look at you from the corner of their eyes.
- Aswangs can turn another person into an aswang through their saliva
- You can test if a person who entered your house is an aswang by placing a walis tingting by your main door upside down. If the person starts to look uncomfortable and wants to get out of the house but can't, it's a sign that he/she might be an aswang.
- The aswangs have to transfer their power to a member of her/his family at the point of death, otherwise he/she won't be able to die and continue to suffer.
- Said power is in the form of a pearl like stone that the aswang will release from his/her mouth and the receiving family member will have to swallow it in order to complete the transfer.
- There is a particular island in the Philippines where they say all the aswangs came from.
- Your neighbor can be an aswang.